The cover is rather intriguing, not to mention enticing right? The Green Lantern symbol dripping like blood or wet paint. What is the Third Army? And where do they fall into the mythos of the Corps?
Most readers, as well as me, found ourselves asking that basic question. But one other question that perhaps needs to be asked is why the Guardians are doing what they’re doing?
Sure, they’re not perfect and much-flawed in their character and decision making processes but in truth, creating the Third Army is only a band-aid solution to the problem. And the problem lies not in the lack of respect that they have started not to get from the Green Lantern Corps after 3 successive crises like the Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night-Brightest Day and the most recent, War of the Green Lanterns but in the heart of the Guardians themselves.
History says that they are peaceful lot and wishing only to be the safekeepers of peace and order in the Universe. But the odd thing is, why should emotion be taken out of the question? Should the presence of peace and maintenance of order be done so in such an emotionless manner that there is no room to be happy at the absence of turmoil and injustice? In previous panels as seen in the War of the Green Lanterns prologue, the Guardians of Maltus, have been wearing the White Symbol for Light and it is in this time frame that they banned Krona and sentenced him to die at the hands of the robot Manhunters because he embraced emotion. And in retaliation, Krona rigged the Manhunters programming and have them kill the entire sector 666 on the planet Ryut, thus paving the way for the birth of Atrocitus, the first Red Lantern and the formation of the GL Corps, just to prove a point. That emotion cannot be taken out of the equation in creating the order that one wants and one seeks.
Of course had it gone the other way, there would’ve been no conflict, no Manhunters reprogramming and much less, no formation of the Green Lantern Corps to replace the “defective” Manhunters.
But getting back on track, this GL annual which is preferred to be read before reading the Zero issue of Green Lantern that introduces the new GL from Earth, Lantern Baz, begins with a decision made by the Guardians and that is the root of all the problems that they have had so far is Free Will. In the past it was emotion, which led to the construction of Manhunters, then became Fear which led them to form the GL Corps that had Willpower as their ally; which after that became the bane of their existence and had to be curbed because they have started to think for themselves. And so Free Will is now the present target for these pesky Smurfs because according to the Guardians, “We know better than they do and eradicating free will is the logical step in maintaining order.”
Yes, from the emotionless mini-Nietzche’s that they are, the Guardians have embraced their inner-Fascist and deemed that no other order is worth following and enforcing other than theirs.
Apart from this revelation, the annual also follows the story arc of Black Hand’s revenge in the current GL issues from 7-12 and shows our Hal Jordan trying to dig himself out of a coffin in the Coast City cemetery after being buried alive by Black Hand only to find Sinestro’s tombstone beside him. But Black Hand ain’t finished, he offers Hal the chance to see his father again, for he can bring him back with the use of his Black Ring (minus Nekron) as long as Hal desists in digging up Sinestro and agree to keep him buried underneath.
While this is going on, the Guardians venture off to another sector to free the supposed “First Lantern” from the Chamber of Shadows. Upon opening, it is revealed that a number of fellow Guardians have equally entombed themselves within the prison to guard the First Lantern. The elderly entombed Guardians stressed that them being inside the tomb was an agreement that they have made eons ago and that whoever comes to free the First Lantern must be destroyed. And thus a battle ensues among the Guardians as the ruling smurfs have need of the First Lantern’s power in order to create the 3rd Army.
Naturally with more experience, the ruling Guardians win and with the energy within one of the slain entombed Guardian is used and directed at the energy shell it thus frees the First Lantern who is taken out and whose essence is later distilled and siphoned out in order to create the first member of the Third Army who is physically in humanoid form but whose silvery limbs are far from human and whose mind and intellect are bonded and only answer to the Guardians.
By this time Sinestro has already freed himself and upon Hal’s suggestion have managed to jointly summon his own battery so that they both can recharge and eventually gain the upper “hand” against Black Hand. But from a distance, the Guardians have sensed Black Hand’s return and Hal’s connivance with Sinestro and thus aids Black Hand in killing off Hal and Sinestro by sucking them into a Black vortex but not before Hal and Sinestro manage to re-integrate their rings and send it scanning for a replacement.
And with their aid, the Guardians teleport Black Hand into the Prison of Shadows to await future use in their plan to "save" the Universe. Guy Gardner and the GL Corps would be the next to be replaced along with the other Corps bearing different colors of the emotional spectrum.
And with that, the dices are rolled and the Gauntlet is thrown for a 4-issue crossover in all major Lantern titles; from New Guardians, Green Lantern, GL Corps and Red Lanterns
And like all other prologues, we are left to wonder whats next in store for the Lanterns of OA and who is the First Lantern and why is he being kept in secret. What damage could he possibly do if he were to get out?
Bring on the Third Army! We are readers are ready and waiting! Go Poozer!